An estimated 48.7 million Americans will travel at least 50 or more miles from home this Thanksgiving.
AAA said in a press release that it projects an increase of one million travelers compared with 2015 travel. The auto club saw the highest numbers of travelers in 2007, but this projection is said to top that.
Lestine Ford is the insurance and membership sales manager for AAA’s Gainesville branch. She said Thanksgiving is always a big holiday for travel.
“It’s one where the holidays are kicked off,” Ford said. “Sometimes people aren’t able to get home for Christmas, so Thanksgiving is a good option for them to go home.”
She said the increase in travelers is caused by a decrease in gas prices.
“Gas prices are lower this year than they were last year and people are taking to the roads,” Ford said. “It’s a lot cheaper to drive this year.”
AAA estimates drivers in the United States have saved more than $28 billion in gas this year compared to the same period last year. The prices at the pump are the second-cheapest Thanksgiving gas prices since 2008 when the national average was $1.85.
According to AAA, more than 89 percent of holiday travelers will drive this Thanksgiving.
The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, Nov. 23, to Sunday, Nov. 27.
Anna Leigh Bibliowicz, 19, is a student at the University of Florida. She will be leaving Gainesville and heading to Orlando on Wednesday morning.
“Everyone’s going to be in a hurry to get wherever they’re going for Thanksgiving break,” said Bibliowicz. “It’s much more dangerous, especially if there are more cars on the road.”
She said the drive home usually takes her about one hour and 45 minutes, but she is expecting her drive on Wednesday will be around three hours long.
“The main traffic is going to come from all the colleges whose class just got released, so it’s going to be like really high concentration in certain areas,” said the sophomore health science major. “ I know I’m going to be caught in some heavy traffic.”